KEY POINTS

  • NASA detected a massive asteroid that will approach Earth this month
  • 52768 (1998 OR2) is expected to be visible from Earth during its flyby

NASA’s asteroid tracking system revealed that a space rock big enough to destroy Earth during an impact event is expected to fly past the planet this month. Due to its massive size, the asteroid, which is bigger than Japan’s Mount Fuji, is expected to be visible from Earth during its flyby.

According to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), the approaching asteroid has been identified as 52768 (1998 OR2). As indicated in the agency’s database, it is currently flying across space towards Earth at a speed of over 19,000 miles per hour.

CNEOS noted that 52768 (1998 OR2) has an estimated diameter of 4.1 kilometers or 13,451 feet, making it longer than the entire Hollywood Walk of Fame. Due to its massive size and natural orbit, which brings it close to Earth from time to time, it has been labeled by NASA as a potentially hazardous asteroid.

“Potentially hazardous asteroids are currently defined based on parameters that measure the asteroid’s potential to make threatening close approaches to the Earth,” NASA explained. “Specifically, all asteroids with a minimum orbit intersection distance of 0.05 [astronomical units] or less and an absolute magnitude of 22.0 or less are considered [potentially hazardous asteroids].”

If 52768 (1998 OR2) ends up colliding with Earth, the blast that will be generated by the impact will be powerful enough to wipe out a huge portion of the planet. The asteroid will not be coming close enough to Earth, however.

According to CNEOS, 52768 (1998 OR2) is expected to fly past Earth on April 29 at 4:56 am EDT. During this time, the asteroid will be about 0.04205 astronomical units or roughly 3.9 million miles from the planet’s atmosphere.

Due to its massive size and near-Earth orbit, sky gazers might be able to catch the asteroid using their telescopes as it passes by Earth on April 29.

Those who do not have powerful telescopes at home can still view the asteroid through a live streaming event that will be hosted by the Virtual Telescope Project starting on April 28 at 2 p.m. EDT.